It is sobering and hard to admit that I owe my entire existence to the fact that my blood, my relatives, were better at killing Natives than the Natives were at killing Whites — at killing my relatives. Yes, we need to pay our proper salute to the 150-year-old U.S.-Dakota “war” — that was the real thing, a legitimate killing contest where the best killers are the winners and they reap the benefits. They take control of the land. They are given the space and freedom to procreate, to thrive, to prosper, while the losers teeter on the brink of extinction.
Yes, that “war” was a real thing with a beginning and an end, where people were free to kill and destroy while engaging in armed conflict…although sometimes the killing happened outside of the armed conflict. But, “war” is hell.
Why aren’t there any more “wars” in the upper Midwest? There could be the Iowa-Nebraska “war,” the South Dakota-Minnesota “war.” Why no more “wars” around here when “wars” were so accessible around here back then? Now it is not even thinkable.
The U.S.-Dakota “war” could have killed every last Dakota on the planet — so do you still think we could start one, say with Iran? An event where every last Dakota could have been killed, an entire people erased, and then…OK, that is done, the “war” is over, you gently put down your gun, go home to feed your cows, plant your corn, and make love to your wife. Really, do you think so, that such a killing contest could exist? Then show me how you get in.
If “war” is innate, why are there no more “wars” around here? Why go all the way to Iraq to start one? Why not just attack Canada — they have oil and timber. To say “‘war’ is innate” is a lazy, convenient definition for those who have not been killed by “war” and have benefited from it. Is racial hatred “innate”? Because without Mother Nature dividing up the teams, Brown vs. White, there is no U.S.-Dakota “war.”
If Bin Laden has the most powerful military on the planet and he attacks America, he has got himself a “war” where he is free to destroy and kill. And if he wins, then he is writing the history books about his ““war” on America” just like our “war” on Iraq. If he wins, then he is setting up exhibits at the Minnesota History Center about his “wars” and it would no longer be about the White man’s “wars.” Bin Laden would be saying “war is innate.”
What do you have if Bin Laden attacks New York City and Washington with a military within the “laws of war,” and Bush attacks Baghdad with commercial passenger jets slamming into buildings? Neither had the right to attack anyone, yet believe it or not, there is a right way and wrong way to unjustly kill people. Washington knows the “rules.”
What do you have if Iraqi drones in 2002 fly over the skies of Washington and execute U.S. officials who are planning to kill or harm Iraqi citizens and/or Iraqi interests? What you have is an even playing field.
Bow down, bow down, that is what these U.S.-Dakota “war” exhibits are about. “War” is our god.
Frank Erickson lives in Minneapolis.